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Re-enactors battle on

June 13, 2004|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

FUNKSTOWN

About the only one not blocking ears from the noise of the gunfire on Baltimore Street Saturday morning was Sunny, a 7-year-old Dalmatian. She's deaf and seemed oblivious of the goings on.

Columns of Yankee and Confederate troops squared off on the street at 10 a.m. for the 13th re-enactment of the July 10, 1863, Battle of Funkstown that was fought seven days after the Battle of Gettysburg.

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's troops retreated south through Washington County, but were stopped in Williamsport when the Potomac River, swollen by heavy rains, prevented the Rebels from crossing the ford there, said Ron Benedict, organizer of the re-enactment since the first was held in 1991.

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The Confederates formed a defensive battle line in Washington County to slow the advancing Union troops who were ordered to pursue them, Benedict said.

"It was a running fight," he said.

Benedict said historians only think the sides fought on Baltimore Street, but don't know for sure. The actual fighting in Funkstown went on for 14 hours, he said, but again, no one knows who won.

"There's not much research on the battle," he said.

One thing is known. The nearly daylong fight claimed the lives of about 500 Union and Confederate troops, he said.

More than 300 re-enactors in blue and gray marched toward each other firing muskets until they reached the point where hand-to-hand combat ensued. Men were falling to the hard pavement.

The re-enactment lasted for about a half hour. A cloud of smoke was left to hover over Baltimore Street as the troops retired in opposite directions.

Benedict said the weather is usually too hot to hold the re-enactment on or near July 10. It's also too close to Gettysburg. Many participants at Funkstown wore themselves out a few days earlier in the Gettysburg re-enactment, he said.

The re-enactors marched to a bivouac area to prepare for their Saturday afternoon re-enactment of the actual Battle of Funkstown at Funkstown Community Park, Benedict said.

One re-enactor, 6-year-old Jacob Radinsky, stood on the sidewalk in his Union uniform watching his father fight for Yankee glory. The wooden rifle that Jacob held stood a foot above his head.

Jen Meyers of Frederick, Sunny's owner, watched as her boyfriend, Brian Dankmeyer, marched toward the Union troops with his Confederate unit. He dropped soon after the firing began.

"He just died," observed Meyers when she saw him fall.

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